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Re: LOSLA (LEGO Open Source License Agreement 1.0)

On Thu, 03 Nov 2016 15:14:32 +1100 Ben Finney wrote:

> Here is the current text from that file:

And here are some comments from my side (my own personal opinion):

> =====
> This LEGO® Open Source License Agreement is an open source license for
> the firmware of the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT microprocessor.

This license seems to be definitely specific for the firmware of the
LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT microprocessor. As a consequence, it does not
seem to be usable for anything else.

This is bad practice: the usual recommendation for upstream copyright
holders is to adopt a well-known and widely used and vetted license,
rather than a custom-made one.
People should fight against license proliferation.
All this is even more important, when talking about copyleft licenses,
which tend to be mutually incompatible.

> Section 3. Distribution Obligations.
>     3.1. Application of License. The Modifications which You create or
> to which You contribute shall be governed by the terms of this License,
> including without limitation Section 2.2. The Source Code version of
> Covered Code may be distributed only under the terms of this License or
> a future version of this License released under Section 6.1, and You
> must include a copy of this License with every copy of the Source Code
> You distribute. You may not offer or impose any terms on any Source Code
> version that alters or restricts the applicable version of this License
> or the recipients' rights hereunder.

This implements a copyleft mechanism, which causes this license to be
GPL-incompatible: some GPL-licensed code cannot be used to create a
Modification of the NXT firmware, since this license would require the
result to be governed by its terms, but the GNU GPL would require the
result to be governed by the terms of the GNU GPL itself; the two
conditions cannot be satisfied at the same time, hence the two licenses
are incompatible with each other.

>     3.2. Availability of Source Code. Any Modification which You create
> or to which You contribute
> if made available via Electronic Distribution Mechanism, must remain
> available for at least twelve (12) months after the date it initially
> became available, or at least six (6) months after a subsequent version
> of that particular Modification has been made available to such
> recipients. You are responsible for ensuring that the Source Code
> version remains available even if the Electronic Distribution Mechanism
> is maintained by a third party.

This clause creates an obligation to keep source code around for a
specified amount of time. In my own personal opinion, this is a cost
associated with redistribution of modifications: this fails to meet
DFSG#1 (which states that no fee may be required for redistribution).

This requirement is very similar to the one found in the MPL v1.1.
I consider this as a non-free restriction; some people agree with me,
other people at least consider it as a practical problem [1].

[1] see https://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2004/06/msg00221.html

>     3.4. Intellectual Property Matters.
>         (a) Third Party Claims. If Contributor has knowledge that a
>     license under a third party's intellectual property rights is
>     required to exercise the rights granted by such Contributor under
>     Sections 2.1 or 2.2, Contributor must include a text file with the
>     Source Code distribution titled "LEGAL'' which describes the claim
>     and the party making the claim in sufficient detail that a recipient
>     will know whom to contact. If Contributor obtains such knowledge
>     after the Modification is made available as described in Section
>     3.2, Contributor shall promptly modify the LEGAL file in all copies
>     Contributor makes available thereafter and shall take other steps
>     (such as notifying appropriate mailing lists or newsgroups)
>     reasonably calculated to inform those who received the Covered Code
>     that new knowledge has been obtained.

This fails the dissident test and is, in my own personal opinion,

Again a clause that closely follows the corresponding one in the MPL
v1.1 [1].

> Section 6. Versions of the License.
>     6.1. New Versions. LEGO may publish revised and/or new versions of
> the License from time to time. Each version will be given a
> distinguishing version number.
>     6.2. Effect of New Versions. Once Covered Code has been published
> under a particular version of the License, You may always continue to
> use it under the terms of that version. You may also choose to use such
> Covered Code under the terms of any subsequent version of the License
> published by LEGO. No one other than LEGO has the right to modify the
> terms applicable to Covered Code created under this License.

This is an automatic license version upgrade mechanism.
We could exploit this mechanism to solve the issues of this license.

If LEGO is persuaded to declare that the GNU GPL (version 2 or later)
is to be considered as a new version (say, version 2.0) of the LEGO®
OPEN SOURCE LICENSE AGREEMENT, then all the issues of this license will
instantly be solved...
Are there any volunteers for this persuasion effort?

> Section 13. Governing Law
>     To the extent possible under applicable law, this License
> shall be subject to the non-exclusive
> jurisdiction of the Commercial and Maritime Court of Copenhagen.

This seems to be a choice of venue clause.
Such restrictions were discussed to death on debian-legal with
several diverging opinions.
My own personal opinion is that choice of venue clauses are non-free

I hope my personal comments on this license may help.

 There's not a second to spare! To the laboratory!
..................................................... Francesco Poli .
 GnuPG key fpr == CA01 1147 9CD2 EFDF FB82  3925 3E1C 27E1 1F69 BFFE

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